US students’ math, reading scores backslid during pandemic – National & International News – TUE 25Oct2022


Students’ math, reading skills backslid during pandemic. STL school shooter had AR-15, 600 rounds of ammo. Secret Russian work at Ukraine nuke plant may shed light on “dirty bomb” threat.



US student math, reading test scores backslide during pandemic

New results of reading and math assessments of the the nation’s 4th and 8th graders show how far behind America’s students have fallen during the pandemic. Students have lost significant ground in reading skills and math skills have suffered their sharpest decline since the assessment began in 1990.

Many parents and educators worried students’ skills would suffer from remote learning. The results of these assessments indicate that learning disruptions have affected children across the country and across all racial and socio-economic backgrounds. However, a gap that between white students and students of color has grown significantly since the last assessment in 2019. Additionally, students that were already struggling academically have fallen even further behind their peers. 

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona called these results a “wake-up call”. Even now that most schools have resumed regular in-person teaching, a widespread shortage of teachers will make it more difficult for students to regain lost ground. There was a long-standing teacher shortage before the pandemic, but during the pandemic many more teachers retired or left the profession than is typical. Recruitment of new teachers has also slowed.

Cardona observed that the teacher shortage is a “symptom of decades of underinvestment” and called on states to use more COVID relief money to boost teacher pay.

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STL school shooter had AR-15, 600 rounds of ammo

The shooter at the Central Visual and Performing Arts High School has been identified as Orlando Harris, 19, a former student at the school. Harris yesterday killed 15-year-old student Alexandria Bell and physical education teacher Jean Kuczka, 61. A school security official had observed Harris attempting to enter locked doors and alerted authorities. Police arrived within four minutes of Harris gaining entry to the school.

No motivation for the shooting has emerged but authorities say Harris had mental health issues. Today, police stated that Harris was carrying an AR-15 style rifle and 12 magazines, totaling 600 rounds of ammunition. That was more than enough rounds to kill every student in the school. Central Visual and Performing Arts has 383 students. The Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience, another magnet school that shares a campus with CVPA, has 336 students.

Yesterday’s shooting was the country’s 40th school shooting to result in injury or death just in 2022.

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Secret Russian work at Ukraine nuke plant may shed light on “dirty bomb” threat

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu recently accused Ukraine of a plot to detonate a “dirty bomb”. A dirty bomb uses conventional explosives to disperse nuclear waste as a terror tactic. The US and other Western powers have dismissed Russia’s accusations against Ukraine, but worry that the Russians may be plotting a false-flag operation. In other words, they fear that Russia will itself plant a dirty bomb and blame it on Ukraine, or that they are using the accusation to justify a pre-emptive first strike.

Ukraine has invited international inspectors to its facilities to further discredit the accusation. Energoatom, the private company which operates Ukraine’s four nuclear plants, has raised a troubling accusation of its own. The company claims that Russians have been undergoing secret work at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. The plant’s Ukrainian minders are still running the facility, but the plant has been under Russian military occupation for once. For the last week, Energoatom says, the Russian occupiers have carried out secret construction work which they won’t allow the Ukrainian staff or international inspectors to access.

Energoatom “assumes” the Russians are using radioactive waste stored at the plan to prepare “a terrorist act”. The company warns that a detonation of these materials could result in “radiation contamination of several hundred square kilometers of the adjacent territory”.

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